Language barriers can impose serious hurdles when it comes to diagnosing and treating medical conditions. If you have incurred medical expenses or suffered harm due to a communication error, you may be entitled to compensation. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, our Syracuse medical malpractice lawyers can conduct an in-depth investigation to uncover the cause of the injury and help you determine your rights. You can rest assured that we can help you build a case that will not only provide accountability and justice for you but also protect others from suffering a similar experience.
Communication issues caused by language barriers seem to be a bigger problem than you may imagine in the United States. According to census data, as many as 1 in 10 working adults in the country have limited English-language proficiency. The 1964 Civil Rights Act and subsequent laws require hospitals and other medical facilities that offer medical services and receive federal funds to give “meaningful access” to patients so that they can make informed decisions regarding their health. In addition, studies reveal that patients with limited English-speaking proficiency are more likely to experience adverse events than English-speaking patients.
Inadequate communication may lead to delays in diagnosis, incorrect diagnoses, treatment errors, and the inability of the patient to correctly comply with treatment recommendations, and they may cause other issues as well. Despite these potential problems, many people who need interpreters do not have access to them. In some cases, people’s children or relatives serve as interpreters, but this is not always appropriate because non-medical interpreters often do not know the medical language to explain things fully and properly.
Medical professionals are responsible for knowing the patient’s preferred language for health care discussions. Medical staff then need to know how to access an interpreter so that the patient is able to receive proper care. Failing to take these steps could give rise to a medical malpractice claim if it resulted in harm to the patient. Medical malpractice takes place when a medical professional fails to use the level of care that a reasonably competent medical professional in the same specialty would have used in the same or similar circumstances.
As a practical matter, the area of greatest potential liability for physicians treating patients with language barriers pertains to informed consent. Informed consent refers to the process by which the patient learns about and understands the purpose, benefits, and potential risk of a medical or surgical procedure or treatment. Without the use of a qualified interpreter, it can be very difficult to obtain informed consent from a patient and know that the patient truly understood the risks, benefits, and alternatives of the recommended procedure.
If you believe you or someone close to you has been harmed by medical malpractice, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, our Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys have vigorously fought for the legal rights of those injured by the negligence of medical professionals. Contact us today for a free initial consultation regarding your case. Call us at 315-479-9000 or contact us online.
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